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To say Backpacker readers love the outdoors is like saying kids love Halloween: true enough, yet wildly understated. The most active enthusiasts in the outdoor space—averaging more than 20 outings a year—they can’t get enough new trips and trail maps. Over the years, Backpacker has responded with cutting-edge solutions, included regionalized, tear-out maps and the publishing industry’s first GPS-enabled downloads. We created a map team to spearhead new destination content and we redesigned our website around georeferenced trips, interactive maps, and a networking platform that allows users to trade multimedia trail reports. We focused on mobile too, and now support more than 125 phones, including iPhone and BlackBerry.
In this 30-minute presentation, map editor Kris Wagner shows how Where 2.0 technology changes the way Backpacker develops content, delivers trips, and fosters community. Here are a few examples he’ll hit in the presentation:
WE CREATED 3,500 CLOSE-TO-HOME TRIPS Our readers tell us they want more (and more) close-to-home destinations. So, we formed a network of 100 official map contributors to help us create a slew of content targeted to the metro areas where our readers live. Backpacker.com now has 132 trips within 100 miles of NYC, for instance, and 151 near Denver. Every one of these editor-approved reports includes complete GPS data and turn-by-turn directions, and many feature high-quality photos and video—in other words, everything you need to plan your next weekend escape. Readers loved the effort: Thanks to trips like this one in Yosemite National Park-backpacker.com/hikes/60564-we saw web traffic increase by 70% in 2009.
WE BROKE DOWN THE BARRIER BETWEEN MAGAZINE AND WEBSITE For many traditional media titles out there, content still flows in one direction-from print to web. Not at Backpacker. Among other things, we highlight reader trips in the magazine’s monthly Destinations department. We also show great hikes within 100 miles of our top metro areas and national parks. (How did we determine our top metro areas? We converted 300,000 subscriber zip codes to GPS data and plotted every single reader on a map. That’s how obsessive we get about fulfilling our tagline: “The Outdoors at Your Doorstep.” Of course, readers can print, post, embed, download, and text any of these hikes from our website.
WE GEOLOCATE EVERYTHING Nearly every writer on assignment for us carries a GPS. We use location to add coordinates to photos, to update outdated USGS topographic maps with field-scouted data, to create trip reports, and to compliment narrative stories—to name a few. For example, our six-part series on national parks in 2009 included videos with 3-D turn-by-turn cartography. The result was a future-now look at guidebooks that had readers begging for more. Give one a view at: backpacker.com/3d_flyover_grand_canyons_south_rim/videos/75
WE PRODUCED A ONE-OF-KIND MAP ISSUE To say we’re obsessed with where is an understatement. But one week before the 2010 Where 2.0 Conference, we will release on newsstands our most ambitious map project to date. A year in the making, the “Maps Issue” features a one-issue redesign, with awesome, on-mission maps on almost every page and the issue itself is designed as a “choose your own adventure.” This special issue will unveil lifelist destinations, treasure hunts, essential navigation skills, and several challenges unfold like what it’s really like not to know where you are, to be truly lost. You’ll find out: We dropped a blindfolded writer from a helicopter into thick wilderness and tracked his process using a SPOT Personal Location device.
When you tally all of these efforts and innovations, it’s proof that that Backpacker has effectively executed several Where 2.0 strategies when others are just talking about them. And, at a time when media is at an epidemic downturn, we certainly could argue that where redefined our business, made it stronger, and more relevant to readers. And-to answer your final question-yes, we’re profitable.
ABOUT BACKPACKER Backpacker brings the outdoors to readers’ doorsteps, inspiring and empowering them to get out and enjoy nature more often. The authority on active adventure, Backpacker is the world’s first GPS-enabled magazine, and the only magazine whose editors personally test the hiking trails, camping gear, and survival tips they publish. Backpacker’s Editors’ Choice Awards, an industry honor recognizing design, feature, and product innovation, has become the gold standard against which all other outdoor-industry awards are measured.
Backpacker is published by Active Interest Media (www.aimmedia.com), has a circulation of 340,000, and is published nine times per year. Since 2006, the magazine has won five coveted National Magazine Awards for editorial excellence (three alone in 2009). Backpacker’s award-winning website, www.backpacker.com, is updated daily and features more than 1,200 hikes, a searchable and comprehensive database of outdoor gear (www.gearfinder.com), special sections for beginners, the most active community forums in the outdoor space, and a wealth of trail tips, videos, and GPS know-how.
ABOUT KRIS WAGNER Kris Wagner is the map editor for Backpacker. His work in interactive media, GPS, and maps has garnered more than 20 web and publishing awards, including three national magazine awards. In 2006 at Where 2.0’s Where Fair, he presented the CDT Project, a plan that empowered 200-plus readers to map a remote trail along the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada.
Kris Wagner is the map editor for Backpacker magazine. His work in interactive media, GPS, and maps has garnered more than 20 web and publishing awards, including three national magazine awards. In 2006 at Where 2.0’s Where Fair, he presented the CDT Project, a plan that empowered 200-plus readers to map a remote trail along the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada.